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Prevented by administration from meeting Azam Khan due to govt pressure: UP Congress chief Ajay Rai

Sitapur/Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Rai on Thursday claimed the administration did not allow him to meet jailed Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan on the behest of the BJP government in the state.

He alleged that Azam Khan and his family were being targeted by the ruling BJP. The Congress party stands by them in this time of crisis, Rai said.

When asked by reporters if Azam Khan has refused to meet him, Rai said, “What is the proof of this? Has Khan given this in writing? He is a prisoner, they can get him to say whatever they want.”

A Rampur court had last week convicted Khan, his wife Tazeen Fatima and his son in a 2019 fake birth certificate case, and sentenced them to seven years in jail. They were lodged at Rampur district jail. Later Khan was shifted to Sitapur district jail and his son was taken to Hardoi district jail.

The attempt by the state Congress president to meet the senior Samajwadi Party leader came amid strained relations between the two parties over seat sharing for the Madhya Pradesh polls.

“It is basic humanity that we meet them at a time when the entire family is jailed and in crisis. It is unfortunate that we were prevented by the administration from meeting him due to government pressure,” Rai said.

“We want to meet Azam Khan ji and share his pain. Why is the government so afraid, what is the government and administration hiding?” he posed.

Earlier in the day, the Congress’ Sitapur district unit president Utkarsh Awasthi said the party’s state president Ajai Rai will meet Azam Khan lodged in Sitapur Jail.

“We have sought permission from the district administration.. but till now permission has not been granted,” he said.

Reacting sharply to the news of Rai looking to visit Khan in jail, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav said, “Where were the Congress leaders when Azam Khan was being framed? Congress leaders were also busy in framing him.”

Both the Samajwadi Party and the Congress are constituents of the opposition I.N.D.I.A alliance formed with the aim of defeating the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Earlier, Sitapur Jail Superintendent Suresh Singh said, “As per the jail manual a prisoner can meet visitors twice in 15 days depending on whether the prisoner wants to meet that person or not. On Wednesday, Azam Khan’s son Adeeb Azam Khan met him.”

Exposing a rift in the I.N.D.I.A grouping, Akhilesh Yadav had a few days earlier expressed unhappiness over the Congress not allocating any seat to the Samajwadi Party despite talks on seat sharing in Madhya Pradesh and suggested that the Congress could get the same treatment from his party in Uttar Pradesh.

Rai had hit back, saying the Samajwadi Party could not blame his party as it released its list of candidates before the Congress and was benefiting the BJP by contesting separately.

Referring to Yadav terming him a ‘chirkut’ (worthless), Rai had said, “Does the use of abusive language for the UPCC president suit the former chief minister.”

(Published 26 October 2023, 10:32 IST)

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